Be Quiet is a German company making PC components which focus on silence and performance. The company has also become synonymous with superb build quality and stunning aesthetics. With over 10 years experience in noise reduction their products are some of the quietest on the market. Their product range includes power supplies, CPU coolers and case fans.
Today we are taking a look at the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2. This is part of their current CPU cooler line up and is Be Quiet’s highest end CPU cooler and successor to the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro. The cooler is focused at offering high performance with low noise levels and great looks. The cooler boasts a twin tower design and seven 6mm nickel plated copper heat pipes to dissipate heat. So let’s get this beast tested and see how it performs!
Specifications and features
- Cooler dimensions (L x W x H): 147 x 138 x 168mm
- Weight: 1.25KG
- Max TDP (Thermal Design Power): 220W
- CPU socket compatibility: Intel LGA 2011, 1366, 1150, 1155, 1156, 775 and AMD FM1, FM2, AM2 (+), AM3 (+), 754, 939, 940
- Heat pipes: 7 x 6mm nickel plated copper heat pipes
- Fans: 1 x Silent Wings 1700RPM PWM 120mm, 1 x Silent Wings 1700RPM PWM 135mm
- Noise: 13.5dBA at 900RPM, 19.8dBA at 1250RPM, 26.4dBA at 100%
- Heat sink: 44 Nickel plated aluminium fins per tower
- Heat sink base: CNC machined nickel plated copper
- Fan connection: 4 pin PWM
- Warranty: 3 years
- Fan dimensions (mm): 135 x 135 x 25 / 120 x 120 x 25
- Air flow @ 12V (cfm, m3/h): 67.8 ; 113.8 / 57.2 ; 93.3
- Air pressure @ 12V (mm H2O): 1.82 / 2.1
- Bearing type: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
- Rated voltage (V): 12
- Input current (A): 0.25 / 0.20
- Input power (W): 2.64 / 2.40
- Cable length (mm): 250 + 150 / 200
Packaging and accessories
The Dark Rock Pro 2 comes in a substantial printed cardboard box. The print has a nice matt finish which helps add a feel of quality to the product. The front of the box points out key selling features including LGA 2011 support, 220W TDP and the use of Silent Wings fans. Be Quiet also highlights the cooler being part of their ‘high-end’ series of products.
Taking a look at the back of the packaging we see a full list of technical specifications of the cooler and a wire-frame image highlighting the key features.
On the sides of the packaging we see a description of the product in 5 different languages, along with some awards with which other coolers in their range have been credited.
Upon opening the box you are greeted with a separate cardboard box for all the accessories. These include the various mounting hardware for: Intel LGA 2011, 1366, 1150, 1155, 1156, 775 and AMD FM1, FM2, AM2 (+), AM3 (+), 754, 939, 940, backplate, thermal paste and an installation guide. The installation guide is multi lingual and has images to aid installation.
The fans supplied are silent wings fans 1 x 120mm and 1 x 135mm both of which use a 7 blade design, fluid dynamic bearings and come pre attached to the cooler. Be Quiet claim the ribbed design on the fan blades offers optimised air flow while still ensuring silent operation. Both fans are 4 Pin PWM but can also be used with 3 pin fan headers. The 120mm fan can spin up-to 1700RPM where as the 135mm fan can only spin up-to 1500RPM.
The 120mm fan cable is 23cm long and the 135mm fan cable is shorter at 20cm long; both come braided in black braid. The quality of the braid could be improved. However as Be Quiet has used black cables the overall finish looks really good. I note that they have used black connectors on the fan cables which is really nice to see.
The fans seemed well made and very rigid in my flex test with very little movement when trying to twist the fans’ framework. The outer rim of each fan has a rubber edge around it which presses against the heat sink where the fan is attached. This helps to reduce any vibration being passed from the fan to the heat sink and in turn helps to reduce noise. The 120mm fan fits on the outside of the cooler whereas the 135mm fans fits sandwiched between the two towers. Be Quiet have included a Y fan splitter to allow users to connect both fans to a single fan header, however this splitter is attached to the 120mm fan cable and can’t be removed. I would have much preferred to have seen a separate fan splitter, which can be plugged in if needed.
Closer look at the cooler
From the get go I would like to say how stunning this cooler looks and feels; it just oozes quality and has a nice amount of weight to it (1.25KG). Be quiet have opted to use a twin tower design however they also offer a single tower version called the Be Quiet Dark Rock 2. Each tower has 44 nickel plated aluminium fins which have a V shape design. Each tower has a contoured shape bowing inward toward the middle of the tower. Be Quiet claim this helps to reduce noise from air turbulence and maximises heat transfer.
Moving onto the top of the cooler, Be Quiet have put a solid black brushed aluminium plate onto the top of the 2 cooling towers. I haven’t seen any other manufacturer doing this but it looks great and makes the cooler look much cleaner and stand out against the competition.
The 7 nickel plated copper heat pipes raise from the base and terminate at the top of the cooler, but instead of leaving them unfinished Be Quiet have applied plastic caps to cover the tops of the pipes. The aluminium plate offers no performance benefit as far as I am aware although it makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing coolers even cooler. Be Quiet have also put their logo in the centre of the aluminium plate however it isn’t rotatable so when the cooler is orientated in the case the logo doesn’t sit horizontally, which is a shame for those who have windows in their case and like to show off their rig.
The Dark Rock Pro 2 uses seven 6mm thick nickel plated copper heat pipes which pass through the nickel plated copper base and in a ‘u’ shape run up through each tower to dissipate heat from the base to the fins, which in turn are cooled by the fans.
For those of you who don’t know the principle of a heat pipe; it is used as a method of heat transfer between objects, in this case the CPU cooler’s base to the fins. A heat pipe is a sealed tube which is charged with a liquid at a set pressure depending on the application for optimum performance. The liquid gets heated, turns into a vapour and rises up the heat pipe where it is transferred to the fins; once the vapour is cooled it travels back down the heat pipe to the base to start the cycle again.
The base of the cooler is made up of CNC machined nickel plated copper through which the heat pipes run. As you can see from the photo the base is very smooth and has a near mirror finish. Out of the box this base has a plastic film covering it. Please note there is no pre-applied thermal compound.
One of the noticeable improvements of the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 over its predecessor is the mounting system. The original mounting system left a lot to be desired and made the cooler very awkward to fit. The new mounting system is much improved. As our current test system is based on the 1155 platform we are using the 1150/1155/1156 mounting hardware. If you are on LGA 2011 you will need to use the backplate that comes with your motherboard.
I would like to say how strong and well made the mounting hardware is. At first glance I was a bit sceptical about the strength of it however I am suitably impressed. There is no flex in the mounts at all and I couldn’t bend them even when pressing against a surface. Good work Be Quiet!
The backplate supplied is powder-coated black and has a black foam pad pre-attached to prevent any metal directly touching the motherboard. Installation is a painless affair and works by placing some part threaded screws through the backplate in the correct spacing for your socket and clipping them in place using plastic clips to prevent them from falling back through the motherboard.
The next stage is to screw the desired mount into the base of the cooler. One thing I would like to point out is that there is no screwdriver included to attach the tiny screws. This would be a minor annoyance if users do not have their own and could make the installation difficult. I would have liked to have seen Be Quiet include the correct tools with the mounting hardware for all the sockets.
The final stage of installation is to apply a small amount of thermal paste to your processor. To mount the cooler down to the backplate you have to screw the cooler in from the back, tightening the screws into the mounts attached to the cooler. I recommend getting all the screws started then tightening them evenly in a cross pattern. As the screws are only part threaded Be Quiet recommend you screw them in until you reach the end of the thread. I really like this idea as this prevents over or under tightening and ensures you get a good mount for the best performance.
To conclude, the process is much improved compared to the original mount found on the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro. However I found the plastic clips fiddly as you need to clip them onto the screws once they are through the motherboard.
Be Quiet have opted for a metal fan clip design for the fan mounting. I have found this to work very well albeit a bit tight to clip to the heat-sink but it holds the fans in place well. The only part Be Quiet could have improved here in my opinion is by including a 3rd set of fan clips in the box or by adding the ability to purchase them separately for users who would like to add a 3rd fan. But this really isn’t a bad point, just something that would have been good to see.
It is a well know fact that the big, high performance air coolers have a reduced amount of room for large RAM and the Dark Rock Pro 2 is no different offering about 4.5cm of clearance which is perfectly adequate for our Corsair Vengeance low profile used for the testing. The back 120mm fan has a small amount of movement up and down but the cooler won’t be able to support large RAM modules such as the full size Corsair Vengeance or Kingston Hyper X.
Test system and testing methodology
- Intel i5 2500K
- Asus P8Z77-V
- 8GB DDR3 Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 1.35v @ 1600MHz 9-9-9-24
- Seasonic Fanless X460W
- 128GB Samsung 830
- Fractal Design Define R4 (1 x 140mm Rear, 2 x 140mm Front all at 7v)
There is no GPU installed in the test rig to ensure the results are as accurate as possible.
- We use Prime95 to load the CPU to 100%
- Our load test involves leaving Prime 95 to run for 30 minutes during this time the computer is unused
- In-between tests the CPU is left idle for 10 minutes to allow the temperatures to stabilise
- During testing the side panels to the case are applied
- All of the fans in the case are run at 7v
- Our idle test involves leaving the computer running with all applications closed with RealTemp loaded; for 30 minutes. At the end of the test the maximum recorded core temperature for each core is taken then divided by the number of cores to give us our result
- Any test where the CPU cooler exceeds 85 degrees counts as a fail and will be recorded in the results as a ‘DNF’ (did not finish)
- We run 6 different tests, we run the fans at 5v, 7v and 12v at both stock and overclocked
- We give you the delta temperature in our graphs this is the average CPU temperature minus the ambient room temperature
- The ambient room temperature is measured using a separate thermal probe
- The ambient room temperature is taken before the beginning of each test and again at the end of each test and the average room temperature is used to give us our delta temperature
- When we say stock the CPU is running at 1.150v @ 3.7GHz – 37x multiplier with 100 base clock (Fixed multiplier and voltage in the BIOS, turbo boost and speed-step are turned off, 3.7GHz is the Turbo Frequency of the processor however we fix that as the constant clock for our stock tests)
- When we say over-clocked the CPU is running at 1.345v @ 4.7GHz – 47x multiplier with a 100 base clock (Fixed multiplier and voltage in the BIOS, turbo boost and speed-step are turned off)
- CPU temperatures are recorded using RealTemp
- CPU temperature is calculated by the average core temperature between the 4 cores (At the end of the test the maximum recorded temperatures for the 4 cores are added up then divided by the number of cores)
5v Fan Results
7v Fan Results
12v Fan Results
Be Quiet have done a great job with the Dark Rock Pro 2. From the outset the bar is set high with the well designed, quality packaging that follows all Be Quiet products.
The cooler itself is one of the most stunning coolers on the market with great aesthetics. The dark nickel plating finish on the fins goes great with the black fans and solid aluminium top. It has a good weight to it and great build quality all round to match. This cooler would look great in most rigs as it has a very understated look in my opinion.
I was more than happy with the performance results I was getting from the cooler at all fan speeds. At 5v the cooler was silent, the only way I knew it was working was by the power LED, and even with a good over clock on the processor in a warm room the cooler was able to keep the processor below 75°C at 100% load; very impressive. At 12v the cooler wasn’t loud, it was audible but far from loud and it was able to keep the processor under 60°C; that is over a 10°C drop in the temperature between the 5v setting.
Available at a large number of UK retailers the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 comes in at around the £60 mark at the time of writing which is expensive but reasonable for a cooler of this calibre and is priced in line with most of the other large dual tower air coolers. However the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 is certainly in my opinion the best looking of them all.
My opinions at a glance:-
- Looks amazing
- Very quiet at all fan speeds
- Presented well
- Performs great with both stock and over-clocked configurations
- Mounting system is strong and holds the cooler down well
- Fan clips hold the fans in place well
- Fans can be used on 3 pin headers as well
- Fans start spinning at a low voltage
- Cooler has got a good weight and great build quality
- 3 year warranty
- Fans are strong with no flex in the framework
- As with most large air coolers the ram clearance is small
- The mounting system although strong and works well is a bit fiddly to use
- Lack of a small screwdriver in the box to fit the mounting hardware to the cooler
- Y fan splitter is fixed to the 120mm fan and I would have preferred it to be separate
- Large size of the cooler may not fit into smaller cases
- Braid on the cables could be improved
To conclude, the cons against the cooler are minimal and are more minor tweaks that could be improved. The cooler itself is fantastic, performs well, looks great and is very quiet. It comes highly recommended if you are in the market for a cooler of this standard.
I am pleased to award the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 2 our Play3r performance award.